Two Poems Michelle Reed



The key is to open
like zinnias into June’s undoing.

Learn to be enchanted
with Pennsylvania’s rain

and the ivy it sends curling
toward your window.

Let your hair grow long.
Plant a garden and lie down

in lemonbalm, breathe in cilantro,
count spines of rosemary

until evening and its crickets
crowd you out.


Thunder like the waves
of Lake Michigan

will creep into your dreams some nights.
Pretend the sound you hear

is a car alarm. A sparrow’s call. A drunk
in the alley at 3 am. Freight train

howl. River water. Anything
but the thing you miss most.


Forget the lakeside dunes,
the water smoothed stones

you’ve left behind.
Entwine yourself in morning

and its bare-skinned
ringing. Think lip of iris,

dogwood blossom,
marigold. Things

that close.


I’ve spent all day in the woods
trying to picture myself with a swollen
belly, spent hours searching down side trails
for deer, imagining a smaller set of footprints
behind my own. My sister had a baby
seven days ago, and each night she croons
to me over the phone, Just wait, you’ll want this
someday, someday you’ll want this too.
I’ve never
wanted a child, but I want desperately to find
a deer on this path, to let one stare at me
in its unflinching, dark, wild animal way,
for the space between us in the snow to grow
wide and significant. I wonder how many times
I’ve passed the place the deer bed down in,
how close I’ve come to catching the glow
of distant eyes. I’ve read that babies see
in black and white in their first weeks,
that my nephew’s world is mostly out of focus
shadows, that if he met me now he’d see
only a patch of speaking, shifting light.
I have never thought babies were as lovely
as snow and everything beneath it—
vole nests and pine-needles and dead ragweed,
ages worth of dirt and stone buried in white—
but my sister says her son is beautiful, so
beautiful. His tiny hands and tiny fingers, tiny
mouth, tiny, faraway staring at his mother.

Michelle Reed completed her MA in English at Bucknell University this past spring. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in The Albion Review, Air Poetry, and The Columbia Literary Review. In her spare time, she is editor of Pink Slayer. She works as a freelance writer and editor in Chicago.